TOPEKA (KSNT) – The VA of Eastern Kansas is using its services to help struggling veterans after 13 American service members and more than 100 Afghans were killed during the suicide bomb attacks Thursday in Kabul.
The VA’s Chief of Communications, Joseph Burks, said the turmoil unraveling in Afghanistan can be triggering for veterans; evoking everything from PTSD to severe anxiety.
“What they saw over the last 24, 36 hours has been horrific,” Burks said.
He said it’s important that veterans know they’re not alone during this difficult time, and have access to the VA’s supportive services.
“We have 24/7 access to our emergency department and let’s make this clear. Veterans, whether you’re enrolled or not, that emergency department is available to you if you’re in crisis,” Burks said.
U.S. veteran Michael Kirk served in Iraq and said the Topeka VA has gotten him through a lot; whether it’s mental, or physical health services. Kirk said he knows first-hand how much support from professionals can help veterans like him.
“There are other veterans that have the same problem as me and I’m able to be around them,” Kirk said. “And some veterans get out and they got no place to go.”
Burks said despite the uncertainty of what’s going on in Afghanistan, he wants veterans in our area to remember one thing.
“They may feel lost through this, they may feel a responsibility in this, and I know they’re going to be mad that they can’t do anything about it,” Burks said. “So don’t take it on yourself.”
Employees at the VA observed a moment of silence Friday afternoon for every service member and civilian killed, wounded, and their families who now mourn their loss.
For any veterans who are struggling, the VA’s crisis line is 1-800-273-8255.